The spirits industry is awash with brands selling more than one million cases – but only the select few shine bright enough to be named Brand Champion. Compiled by The Spirits Business editorial team.
Every year, the Brand Champions report showcases and celebrates those spirits brands selling more than one million nine-litre cases in the calendar year.
Domestic, regional and international brands all feature, but only those truly outshining their competitors can be named a Brand Champion.
Selected by our team of award-winning journalists, the Brand Champions 2016 set gleam not only for their volume growth in 2015, but also for their innovative consumer engagement tactics, illustrious new product development and all-round industry excellence.
Once again, some familiar names have chosen not to disclose their volume data, and as such have not been included in the report. However, new for this year we have chosen to include local speciality heroes, and to give a nod to those fast-growing brands we think could surpass that one million-case milestone in the year ahead.
In particular, we’d like to highlight the outstanding performance of one brand in particular – Rémy Martin – which we have named our Supreme Brand Champion 2016.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to discover the spirits sector stars burning bright and beyond their contemporaries – our Brand Champions 2016.
Supreme Brand Champion 2016: Rémy Martin
Three years ago Chinese president Xi Jinping embarked on a campaign of austerity to combat extravagant spending and gifting, triggering the start of a long-running downward trend for Cognac.
The move hit luxury makers hard, none more so than the house of Rémy Martin. The brand, along with a number of its rivals, has since embarked on a new strategy to pull back growth, culling lines of lower end products and expanding its focus on previously under-explored markets.
Rémy even took the brave step of relinquishing its position in the VS category altogether, directing its attentions to VSOP and above. The brand also continued its focus on the US market, enhanced its presence in Africa and reported “improving trends” in Asia alongside growth in China.
“Success comes from the clear positioning of Rémy Martin at the higher end of the market, illustrated by the radical choice of Fine Champagne Cognacs made almost 300 years ago,” believes Augustin Depardon, executive brand director at Rémy Martin. “Thanks to extensive education programmes, consumers are learning to appreciate the quality and the difference that Fine Champagne is bringing.”
While Rémy may not be the fastest growing spirit brand in the world, or even the largest Cognac name, it is a prime example of a brand that has come out fighting in the face of pervasive category difficulties, boasting both a strategy and ambition that has yielded tangible results. Up against challengers in more buoyant categories, it has proven to be worthy of the coveted Supreme Brand Champion 2016 title.
Due to Rémy’s position in the ‘big four’ Cognac houses – the only Cognac producers to sell more than one million cases annually – the brand has simultaneously benefited from but also acted as a key driver for the global rebound of the category. Trade data released earlier this year showed that record Cognac shipments were reported in 2015, increasing 8.5% by volume to almost 168.9m bottles.
“Our star markets were US, Africa, China and UK,” claims Depardon. “Cognac in general and Rémy Martin in particular are getting increased attention from more discerning consumers who are willing to trade-up to more qualitative propositions with authentic brand stories and heritage as alternatives to whiskies.”
A big focus for Rémy in 2015 was the rollout of its One Life/Live Them campaign, featuring actors Jeremy Renner in the US and Huang Xiaoming in China.
“The campaign is one key element of our strategy that puts the client at the very heart of everything we do,” adds Depardon. “It has been supported by a full sell-out action plan as well as a reset of our priorities of the product range with a focus on the ‘intermediate’ expressions, including 1738 and Club.” With such a resolute strategy, indicators point to the likelihood of another successful year in 2016.